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News digest – Budget, bowel screening, Bluetooth, kids smoking and more

by Emma Smith | Analysis

23 March 2013

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UK newspapers

Read our news digest

  • On Wednesday we reported that people with a family history of bowel cancer are more likely to survive their disease than people who develop it by chance. It’s an intriguing study which may shed light on some of the fundamental processes that drive the disease.
  • Scientists in Austria and Greece have found a potential new drug target for triple negative breast cancer. Although uncommon, triple negative disease is a more aggressive and hard to treat form of breast cancer so new treatments to tackle it are urgently needed.
  • Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, a chain of tanning salons in north England is claiming there is no link between sunbeds and skin cancer, according to a local newspaper. The research on sunbeds increasing the risk of skin cancer is very clear and we hope the press coverage will persuade the tanning salon to re-think their advertising.
  • We spotted this story in the Scotsman about using stem cells taken from fat helping to attack brain tumour cells leftover after surgery, instead of using bone marrow stem cells that are harder to access. They are early findings and it is important to note that while the stem cells from fat could be used as a treatment one day, being overweight still increases your risk of developing cancer in the first place.
  • Bone cancer expert Professor Adrienne Flanagan wrote a great piece in the Huffington Post about exciting new research that might help develop new drugs for treating the disease. She and her team have found common genetic mistakes in around half of all chondrosarcoma bone tumours that could be targeted with drugs.
  • The National Post covered research from the journal Nature Genetics showing that more aggressive chronic lymphocytic leukaemias are likely to have faults in a gene called POT1, which helps to protect the ‘caps’ on the ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres.  This discovery could lead to urgently-needed new therapies.
  • The Express claimed it had “seven easy steps to a longer life” by reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. As you might expect, these are the usual suspects – not smoking, keeping a healthy weight and diet, being physically active, and having healthy cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. The NHS Choices blog backs up this advice and looks at the story in more depth.
  • Following other countries who are leading the way in reducing smoking related deaths, the mayor of New York is also looking to put tobacco ‘out of sight’, just like displays in the UK have been hidden away.
  • The Daily Telegraph covered results from a small American study, where scientists have found a group of genes that might be able to predict women at higher risk of developing ‘hormone positive’ breast cancer. This may help doctors identify women who would benefit from taken tamoxifen as a preventative treatment.
  • It’s early days yet, but we covered a news story about promising results from a small clinical trial out of the US treating people with an aggressive B cell leukaemia. It needs to be tested in more people and studied over a longer time, but potentially it could be a cure for this type of cancer. The Independent also picked up on the story.
  • We read this touching and personal story from Caroline Raphael, a top BBC employee who spoke out about her battle with ovarian cancer. Survival rates in ovarian cancer remain low, so we’re pleased to see newspapers raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of this disease.
  • Both the Telegraph and Guardian covered news that NICE has not recommended the drug everolimus (Afinitor) for widespread use on the NHS to treat advanced ‘hormone positive’ breast cancer. This is disappointing news for patients, but NICE say the evidence of the drug’s benefit isn’t as solid as it needs to be to justify the cost. As background, here’s our blog post on drug pricing.

And finally

  • We spotted this futuristic sounding story in the Independent and BBC about a tiny Bluetooth implant that could one day help doctors to monitor patient’s progress around the clock via their mobile phone. Continuous information like this might help doctors adjust chemotherapy to ensure people undergoing treatment are getting the best dose, amongst other uses. It may sound like science fiction but it is about to begin clinical trials and could transform the way cancer treatments are delivered in the future.

 Emma Smith, Science Information Officer